Science on Tap is Back! Here Are Three Videos to Celebrate

On a cold, snowy February in 2013, a standing-room only crowd packed the upper level of the Minocqua Brewing Company to hear about science in the Northwoods. And, ever since, we have devoted the first Wednesday of the month (except for the summer field research season) to conversations with scientists about everything from loons and bears to vitamin D and how Wisconsin became the dairy state.

While the current global coronavirus pandemic stopped our in-person programming, we are re-launching a virtual version of Science on Tap-Minocqua this Wednesday. (Join us at 6:30pm on Zoom or watch live on YouTube as we learn about the ecological and cultural importance of wild rice).

But don’t think this is new territory for us. At Science on Tap-Minocqua, we were doing online learning way before COVID made it cool. Not only have we streamed our in-person shows live for years, we’ve amassed quite the YouTube archive – offering both full talks and shorter “highlight” reels. Here are three of our favorite “SOT Short” videos that hint at the wide scope of science we’re covered. We can’t wait til we can safely pack a science-loving audience back into a room again. But, in the meantime, enjoy these videos and see you (online) Wednesday!

Resurrecting Extinct Species

Dr. Stan Temple spent his career trying to save endangered species and couldn’t resist the daydream – “Wouldn’t it be great is one of the species that slipped away was given a second chance?” The answer, unfortunately, is ‘No.” In this fascinating talk about advances in biotechnology that have out us on the cusp of Jurassic Park-type breakthroughs, Temple told our audience that we first need to worry about fixing the problems that send animals to extinction in the first place. Besides, he argues, while science might be able to patch together DNA to “resurrect” something like a passenger pigeon, the end result would be far less like the original animal and much more like a “FrankenDove.”

The Politics of Resentment

When Katherine Cramer set out to understand how people talk politics in Wisconsin, little did she realize that it would set her on a course to writing a book that would chronicle the story of our dysfunctional political times. The Politics of Resentment has become an important document to understanding how we got to this point of “us versus them” and how we might get out. Her question, initially, she told our audience, was “How does where we think we are in the pecking order of things impact the way we think about issues and candidates?” The answers she found to that question taught her a lot about who we are as a state.

The Search for Earth-Like Planets

Maggie Turnbull’s scientific passion, she says, is “trying to understand whether there are other life forms in the universe besides what we find here on Earth.” She shared an update of her research – which, in addition to working from her computer at home in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, recently added “working on a NASA flight plan from the ground up.” We love the fact that there’s a world-renowned astrobiologist working out of her northern Wisconsin home office – especially as news emerges that Earth might not even be the best place for life to flourish and other “superhabitable” planets are out there!